Episode 304 Annette Gordon-Reed, On Juneteenth

Juneteenth is a state holiday that commemorates June 19, 1865, the day slavery ended in Texas. Over the last decade, a push to make Juneteenth a national holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States has gained momentum.

What do we know about Juneteenth and its origins?

Annette Gordon-Reed, an award-winning historian at Harvard University and Harvard Law School, is a native Texan and she joins us to discuss the early history of Texas and the origins of the Juneteenth holiday with details from her book, On Juneteenth.

About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.

Episode Summary

Annette Gordon-Reed, is the Carl M. Loeb University Professor and a Professor of History at Harvard University and Harvard Law School. Her books have won sixteen major awards including the Pulitzer Prize in History and the National Book Award. She’s known for her expertise on the Hemings Family and Thomas Jefferson, but in this episode, she joins us as a native Texan to discuss the early history of Texas and the origins of the Juneteenth holiday.

Using details from her book, On Juneteenth, Annette reveals information about Texas’ early history as a colony and as an independent republic; Details about Texas’ history with and use of slavery; And, the origins of the Juneteenth holiday and why there is a push to make this Texas-state holiday a commemorative day throughout the United States.

What You’ll Discover

  • Inspiration for a book about Texas
  • Deep family roots in Texas
  • Personal ideas versus History
  • Geography of Texas
  • Misunderstandings about Texas and its history
  • Stephen F. Austin and American settlement of Texas
  • Texas’ colonial past
  • Slavery and its arrival in Texas
  • Why Anglo-Americans settled in Texas
  • East Texas as an “environmental arc”
  • Texas plantations
  • Republic of Texas
  • Where to start our study of African American history
  • Origins of Juneteenth
  • General Order No. 3
  • Post Civil War Texas
  • The process of freeing enslaved people in Texas
  • Celebrations of Juneteenth
  • Growing adoption of Juneteenth by U.S. states
  • Ideas for how to celebrate and think about Juneteenth

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In your opinion, what might have happened if Texas had remained an independent republic? How would the course of early American and United States history be different?

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